It hasn't launched yet, and we don't know when it will launch, but Netflix will have an ad-supported tier.
Right now, Netflix has three streaming tiers, ranging from $10/month to $20/month. What you get on the three tiers today varies.
The $10 plan lets you watch a single stream at a time. No watching Netflix in the living room while someone else watches Netflix in a bedroom. Additionally, the content is at standard definition, not HD.
The $15 plan (actually $15.49) adds a second stream, meaning two at a time. And the streams will be HD.
The $20 plan adds another two streams, giving you four. The streams are available in UHD/4K.
All three plans let you download content to devices for offline viewing. The number of devices is equal to the number of simultaneous streams.
The coming of a new ad-supported tier brings some good news and some bad news.
The good news is that Netflix is reported to have promised no ads in children's programming, or in original movies, according to a report from Bloomberg.
Netflix has told partners it won’t run ads during original kids programs, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the company is still working out the details. In addition, some studios that have licensed Netflix the rights to kids programs won’t allow the company to run commercials in them. The company has decided original movies should stay ad-free, at least at first, the people said, which should allay the concerns of top filmmakers.
Netflix is still finalizing plans for its advertising-supported service, which means details and strategies could still change. The company aims to introduce the ad tier early next year. Netflix declined to comment on its plans beyond saying that it is still in the early stages of figuring out the advertising business.
No price for the ad-supported tier has been announced, so a really high price is not the bad news. The bad news is that unless something changes, you won't be able to download content with the ad-supported tier.
A developer found code in the Netflix app that already is laying the groundwork for an ad-supported tier. And it says no downloads on the ad-supported tier.
Text found in Netflix’s app reveals that the new plan will not allow content to be downloaded for offline viewing. This is not a surprising move given that many other streaming services only work online.
Downloads available on all plans except Netflix with ads.
Other text in the app implies that there will be a set up experience for users of the new Netflix with ads plan.
This isn't really surprising to me, or to others. But I expect some people will be disappointed with this decision.
When the ad-supported tier does launch, this will be welcome to many users, and may achieve the goal of retaining some users who might otherwise drop the service. Or it could backfire and cause some users to downgrade. Unless they make a lot of money on the ads. Either way, another option in your Streaming Life is a good thing.